Morality is Not Judgment

Joel Osteen on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight"Charismatic televangelist Joel Osteen appeared with his wife Victoria last week on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, where the recent successor to Larry King sought to rescue the dismal ratings of his debut week by capitalizing on one of today’s most controversial issues. In a clip available on Morgan’s site, Osteen—who rarely mentions sin, instead preferring to focus on how faith can improve one’s life—openly admitted that he believes that homosexuality is a sin. Osteen said he based his opinion solely on the fact that Scripture says so.

It seems from Morgan’s inquisition that the host would have you believe that Osteen was shirking responsibility by continually referring back to Scripture, but Osteen isn’t copping out when he repeatedly answers Morgan’s questions by replying that God is the judge, not Osteen himself. Confirming God’s Word as truth—and pointing out the sin His Law reveals—is not judgment; this is how we as Christians know what is right, not to mention how we know that we are hopeless sinners, and desperately in need of a Savior. Dr. Albert Mohler had this to say on the topic:

To Morgan, making any moral judgment amounts to judgmentalism. Of course, this leads logically to total moral insanity, since the only way to avoid being identified with judgmentalism is to make no moral judgments whatsoever — which no sane person can do.

Central to Christian living is the daily realization that I am a sinner; Morgan’s line of questioning about what Osteen would tell the host’s friend, Elton John, reveals one thing a lot of people, even Christians, really hate: actually being convicted by the Word, sermons, and Christian values (which, if we’re going about things right, fall in line with God’s Law). But I, for one, hate a sermon that doesn’t challenge me to examine the way I live and the beliefs I hold. If I am a sinner, if I’m going down the wrong path, then why wouldn’t I want someone to warn me? Even if you believe that people are born as homosexuals, I could argue that my selfishness, lust, quickness to anger, and other faults are traits that I was “born with” as well… but I don’t think anyone would argue that these things are “right.” As children of the Fall, we are all born into a struggle with sin. Part of our responsibility as Christians is to help shed light on what is wrong with the world—not that we may condemn others or make ourselves feel superior—but to point people toward Jesus Christ, whose grace and forgiveness they need.

Certainly, we must do this with the utmost love and caring, and be sure that we are not being judgmental. We can do this by putting ourselves in others’ shoes, and by genuinely getting to know the people who we seek to help. We must also keep in mind that we ourselves are sinners; Jesus teaches us that lesson in this way:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5, NIV)

Our responsibility to stand up for truth and what is right requires us to be humble at the same time; we can’t constantly castigate others while fooling ourselves into believing that we are any better—or better off—than they. While “political correctness” dictates that we refuse to make any moral judgment and instead adopt a relativistic theory which determines what’s “right” by deciding what’s “right for you,” we have to realize that there exists a universal truth, and this truth includes an absolute morality. Understanding this does not mean that we are judgmental; it means that we accept the universe as it is, even when acknowledging that also forces us to swallow the hard truth that it reveals in us: we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

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